AS the nights draw in and the days get colder, Craven College catering and hospitality students look forward to preparing more substantial dishes to ward off the winter blues. Everyone loves spice, warmth and heft and this spiced apple cake has all three.

It comes from Anna Jones’ excellent book A Modern Way to Eat. It’s warming, satisfying and packed with winter flavours, ginger and treacle. Delicious on its own, it goes best with a steaming hot mug of tea in front of a warm fire.

Spelt flour gives a lovely nutty flavour to this cake but you can use plain flour if spelt flour is unavailable. The grated apples and olive oil make sure that this is a moist cake, so it will keep well for a few days.

This is a useful cake to have on standby and will freeze un-iced for up to three months. Make the cake as per the recipe and let it cool completely. Wrap well in cling film and foil. Leave it to defrost in its wrapping at room temperature for two to three hours before icing and serving.

It serves 10 to 12 people - or fewer if you have greedy guests.


250g spelt flour

1tsp cinnamon

Pinch of allspice

1tsp bicarbonate of soda

1tsp baking powder

2 large eggs

150g maple syrup (or you can use soft brown sugar instead)

1tbsp black treacle

150ml olive oil

3 large apples

1thumb-size lump of fresh ginger, peeled and grated


250g icing sugar

125g butter

2 tbsp honey

Flaked almonds or hazelnuts


Sift the flour into a bowl, along with the spices, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda.

In another bowl mix the eggs, treacle, maple syrup and olive oil together. Stir in the flour mix and then grate the apples into the mixture. Finally, add in the ginger and mix well.

Grease and line a 1lb loaf tin and pour in the mixture, making sure you smooth down the top of the mixture. Bake for around 45 minutes, or until a skewer pushed into the cake comes out clean. The top of the cake may brown before the rest is cooked; just cover with loose foil or baking parchment to stop it from burning.

Once the cake is cooked, take it out the oven and leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes then turn it out onto a wire rack and leave it to cool completely before icing.

Make the icing by beating together the sugar, honey and butter. An electric whisk may come in useful here but a large wooden spoon will do the job just as well. Be warned - if the butter isn’t soft you’ll end up with icing sugar everywhere.

Smooth out the icing over the top of the cake and sprinkle with crushed flaked almonds or hazelnuts.

If you’d like to learn to make warming winter dishes like this one, as well as others, check out the new part-time courses starting in January 2016 at